Failed by Employment Insurance safety net

For several years as I worked at the QCT doing layout and managing the office, I also did small freelance contracts on the side; VEQ's newsletters, a few ads, and other small projects. So when, in the fall of 2007, I unexpectedly found myself without a job, my natural thought was to try my hand at doing more serious freelance graphic design work.

 I wasn't quite prepared though, so I was glad to have had an offer from the Voice of English-speaking Quebec for a temporary position as they prepared for the 400th celebrations.

While working there I managed to get the final pieces in place; I registered my company (Grafik Dezin), opened a business bank account, business cards, website, etc...

I felt confident moving forward and, having contributed steadily to EI over the past 10 years, felt safe that I could get my feet planted at the beginning of my solo business venture with that safety net in place.

Much to my dismay, I found out that EI is solely for people sitting at home sending out 5 CVs per week. If you tell them that you're working hard at being a productive part of the economy, they cut you off.

So after filling out countless forms, long telephone conversations, complaints, and even a formal meeting with the board of referees, EI gave me a grand total of $1. The agent in charge helpfully stated that they probably wouldn't ask for the $1 back.

Good thing I've been giving them money for the past 10 years... If they're not going to cover me, then I want my contributions back. I had the distinct impression that the sole task for the agent handling my case was to figure out how to deny me coverage.

So here's my crazy idea: how about if the government encourages small business instead of being discouraging. At the very least, educate the EI agents about other services and programs that might be available and helpful. 

Oh, and if you need any design work done (newsletter, business card, website, flyer, etc...) feel free to contact me: [email protected].

And now, to remind me of their generous assistance, I've received my T4 -- in the amount of $1 -- so that I can properly declare and submit taxes. What a waste.

-Matthew